This year, Spiritual Formation is enforcing chapel policies through integrity partners, which require students to give up their ID cards when going to the restroom. If chapels are not completed or made up, students will not be allowed to register for the next semester and graduating seniors’ transcripts will not be sent out.
Last semester, chapel attendance operated on an honor system: If students had to leave, they wrote down their names and ID numbers by the door. The first week of chapel this semester, the integrity partner system was announced.
“We have been approached by such a large number of students frustrated by the increasing number of individuals that have their card scanned for chapel credit and leave without actually earning the credit. We don’t believe this kind of behavior represents the kind of Christ-like integrity that represents our students,” Campus Pastor Vince Beresford said.
Spiritual Formation stressed that it is not a change in policy, simply enforcement.
Students have had varied responses to the enforcement.
“They need to explain their reasoning further than just ‘we want to preserve the integrity of Vanguard.’ Yes, we are to hold each other accountable. Yes, we should respect those in authority over us. But there has to be a better option than the current policies. I feel ‘trapped’ in chapel,” junior Jessica Reina said.
At the same time, other students appreciate the integrity partner system.
“I personally wouldn’t care at all if they asked for my card. Sure, it’s childish, but so is skipping out on mandatory things that we signed up for willingly when we entered Vanguard,” junior Matt Johnson said.
Spiritual Formation emphasized the variety and diversity of the chapels and credits offered, which can be tailored to fit students’ specific needs.
“One of the approaches that makes Vanguard different than many other Christian schools is that we take a much more objective approach to Chapel and Spiritual Formation credit. Most other Christian universities require students to go to every chapel they offer and students are allowed only a small number of absences,” Beresford said.
With 90 plus chapels offered a semester, an average of six a week, students are afforded flexibility in attending chapels. It is assumed that, without a petition, students have more than ample opportunity to make 1/3 of the chapels offered.
“We hope students won’t view chapel as a burden but a chance to worship together as a community. We aim to provide a variety of experiences for students to accommodate the different preferences and schedules,” said Amy Weiss, Coordinator of Office Administration and Chapel Accountability.
The consequences of not completing or making-up the required chapels vary. The student may face academic probation and the inability to register for next semester, while graduating seniors’ transcripts will be held until university accounts have been settled.
Ways to avoid these situations are to perform an hour of community service, pay a $10 fee for each chapel missed and write a two-page reaction paper about either the community service or a recording of the Chapel service available in the library.